Monday, May 12, 2014

Birthday Week.

My wonderful family,

All the Hermanas in the mission.
It was so great to see you and talk to you yesterday. I'm sorry I wasn't able to hear more about your lives. It's so hard to catch up on five months in 40 minutes. I want you all to know how much I love you and appreciate your love and support. I don't think I expressed well enough how grateful I am for such a wonderful family. There really is no greater blessing. I don't know what kind of person I would be if I hadn't been surrounded by such wonderful examples throughout my whole life. Not all people are so lucky. I love you all so much.

This week was full of miracles. I was so humbled to see how aware the Lord is of our individual circumstances. Although we had limited time in our area this week He blessed us to find some of His children that are ready to hear the gospel.

One lesson Hermana Miller and I have been learning together is to have more love and patience with our investigators. We found that we were being a little too judgmental of some of the people we found and if they weren't complying with all of the commandments we were being a little too harsh on them.  Two of the families in which we are focusing on right now are not exactly the kind of people that look like members of the church the first time you meet them. They are young, juntato, poor, have tattoos, but they have really accepted our teachings and begun progressing.

One of these families came as a reference from our recent convert Marcelo. We went by his mom's house and ended up teaching his mother, two sisters and one of their maridos (they use the same word for husband and live in boyfriend here), two brothers, and a nephew, who all live in this house. On Saturday we passed by for our return appointment and they had visitors and wouldn't let us in. By Saturday night we were not confident that any of our new investigators we had found this week would be coming to church. However, the Lord blessed us with miracles Sunday morning. When we called their house the mother said that she had back pain and couldn`t come, then she said it was raining but we told her we would be stopping by anyway. When we went by she and her daughters and grandson were all ready to go! We were esctatic! The icing on the cake, however, was when the marido of one of the daughters, full of tattoos and piercings, (whom to be honest we had the least confidence in) came right before sacrament meeting on his own after getting off work. All during church they participated, smiled, learned, asked questions, and began making plans for activities with the branch.

Lujan Hermanas
Another wonderful miracle this week occurred in one of the capacitaciones (trainings). We were working with a companionship of hermanas, one of whom has had some great challenges with pride in the mission. They did well in the first practice and then we evaluated and gave a few suggestions for them to improve the second time. I believe she had a hard time taking advice and when we asked her to begin again she refused. She told us she couldn't and wouldn't. She began to cry and we sat talking and waiting for her to start for about 10-20 minutes. There was no way I was going to let her get out of there without doing the second practice because she would just learn than when things are hard she can give up. After kind of forcing her to say a prayer together she finally began to teach the second practice. As they began to teach about baptism she explained some of the covenants we make when we are baptized. In that moment the spirit completely took over and He began to teach her as well as us through her own words. It was absolutely amazing. I could see the spirit softening her heart and helping her to learn as she taught and bore testimony. Afterward we just sat still for a moment and then told her how grateful we were to be a part of such a sacred experience. It was amazing to feel the spirit edifying and teaching each one of us, as I know He can do when we are prepared.

I am so grateful for how the Lord works to teach us the lessons we need to learn and help us to see each one of his children as He sees them. This family has a long way to go in their repentance and progression process but they are no more imperfect than I am. Our Heavenly Father loves us all equally and wants to give us each the chance to repent and return to him.

Today for my birthday we are in Ramos after doing tramites (paperwork). We are going to try to buy a few clothes if we can find anything that is not too expensive. The assistants were great and gave me a loaf of chocolate bread and sang to me in Portuguese and Hermana Miller is being super cute and reminding everyone it is my birthday. (I will get to do the same for her next Monday when she turns 22!)

Tomorrow we head to Chivilcoy for our last capacitaciones and then we hope to do divisions with the Hermanas from Mercedes, another busy week ahead which I'm sure will be filled with more miracles!

I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a missionary and learn and grow so much. It really is such a blessing. Thank you all for your love and prayers!

Have a wonderful week!

Love your favorite ancient 23 year old hermana, Jen

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